Indianapolis delaying further easing of virus limits by week
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis will wait another week before following state’s lead in lifting more coronavirus restrictions on businesses, the mayor said Thursday.
The city will keep its current limits in place until June 19, while a new statewide order from Gov. Eric Holcomb will allow movie theaters and bars to reopen and greater number of customers at restaurants and retail stores starting Friday.
Indianapolis has been easing restrictions slower than most of the rest of the state because of its higher concentration of COVID-19 infections and population density. Mayor Joe Hogsett said the one-week delay will give businesses in the state’s largest city more time to make needed preparations.
Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department, said the city had seen declines in the daily number of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations since April.
“We still have sufficient capacity if we should see a second surge of COVID-19 that occurs this summer,” she said. “We are well equipped in order to handle the surge if it occurred during the summer before influenza season starts.”
The statewide order Holcomb signed Thursday allows social gatherings of up to 250 people and retail stores and malls to operate at full capacity.
The order allows restaurants to have 75% capacity in their dining rooms, while bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, bowling alleys, museums and amusement parks can open at half capacity. Casinos can resume operations starting Monday under safety plans submitted to the Indiana Gaming Commission.
Public playgrounds can reopen Friday, but festivals and parades are still prohibited.
Cities and counties have been allowed to impose tougher restrictions in order to deal with coronavirus cases in their communities.
Coronavirus concerns have already led to the cancellation of the Indiana State Fair, which had been scheduled for August in Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway plans on hosting an IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader on July 4 weekend without fans, while the Indy 500 has been postponed by three months until Aug. 23.
Health officials on Thursday raised the state’s death toll from confirmed or presumed COVID-19 cases by 25, to 2,380. Most of the new deaths happened Tuesday or Wednesday, but others happened as far back as May 20, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.
Indiana hospitals had 330 COVID-19 patients in their intensive care units on Wednesday, with 38% the state’s ICU beds available. That’s about half of the ICU patients the state had in late April.